Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Downtown

Before I get into this, I wanna get out the last bit of gratitude left over from the last holiday so I can make room for the greed of the next one. Ethan's been kind enough to link to this lame blog and I often do bite the hand that feeds me, so props to Ethan and his magnanimity.

Okay, the Downtown thing.

As tempting as it is to lay the current state of Downtown at the feet of the sitting Mayor, the Downtown issue is more attributable to things demographic and things economic. As for the Mayor's hand in things, you've got to consider that Downtown was not exactly booming in 1998 or ten years previous. The real issues, which unfortunately cannot be resolved in an election cycle, are growth in suburbs that used to be exurbs and that Utah-sized families are not apt to living in a noisy, two-bedroom flat. As the Salt Lake Valley and the Utah Valley continue on their way to morph into each other, the economics of geography will inevitably lead to a shift in the location of jobs, shopping (IKEA!), housing, and institutional facilities. Yes, there are ways to mitigate this, and, in the case of Canadian cities and Portland, Oregon, ways to eliminate it altogether, but the fact of the matter is that in this state growth is occurring where the land is and there's nothing a 70-square-mile municipality 15 miles away can do about it. Over the hill in Denver, however, we are seeing a booming downtown coinciding with suburbs hell-bent on reaching Kansas City. But Denver has two things that SLC considerably lacks: transplants and childless professionals. Although there is a trickle of transplants and a handful of hipsters here, it's nothing compared to what you'll find in states like Arizona or Colorado. Salt Lake is growing, but Denver and Phoenix are exploding.

It is possible to see a silver lining (except during inversions) for Downtown, as it is currently experiencing a small revitalization. We just have to accept the fact that it's not gonna turn itself around at the breakneck speed that corresponds to mega-growth cities. The transplants and the yuppies will come, but alot of other things - slow, slow things that I'll reserve comment on - will likely have to come first.